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Wal-Mart Stores Shares Edge Higher after Q4 Results (WMT)

Shares of world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) have edged higher in trading today after the company reported its fourth-quarter financial results.

For the fourth quarter ended January 31, 2013, Wal-Mart reported net sales of $127.1 billion, representing an increase of 3.9% over the same period in the previous year. Income from continuing operations for the fourth quarter was $5.6 billion, up 7.9% on a year-over-year basis. The company’s diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $1.67.

For fiscal year ended January 31, 2013, Wal-Mart reported consolidated net sales of $466.1 billion, representing an increase of 5% over the previous year. Income from continuing operations for the full year stood at $17 billion, up 7.8% over the previous year. Earnings per share for fiscal year 2013 were $5.02, up 10.6% over the previous year.

Mike Duke, President and CEO of Wal-Mart, said that the company topped off a really good year with a solid fourth quarter. Duke noted that Wal-Mart U.S. was a key driver of the company’s five percent net sales increase for fiscal year 2013.

Charles Holley, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, said that there are challenges ahead, but the company believes its strong financial position, along with its EDLC and EDLP operating model, will continue to produce strong sales and returns for its shareholders.

For fiscal 2014, Wal-Mart expects earnings per share to be between $5.20 and $5.40.

Wal-Mart also announced today that its Board of Directors approved an annual cash dividend of $1.88 per share for fiscal year 2014, an increase of around 18% from fiscal 2013. Duke said that the company is pleased to increase its dividend by $0.29 per share, which is one of the largest increases in its history.

Wal-Mart shares rose to an intra-day high of $71.47 earlier today. At last check, the stock was trading 2.40% higher at $70.87 on above average volume of 13.11 million.